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Artists' Books by Women: Getting Started

Notable Artists and Presses

The Veil by Julie Chen

The Sallie Bingham Center has a number of holdings by the following artists and presses, such as The Veil by Julie Chen, pictured above. You can search the artists' names as authors and the presses as keywords, or use the links below.

Finding Artists' Books in the Catalog

Duke University Libraries has artists' books at the Rubenstein Library, as well as Lilly Library. To search for all artists' books in the online catalog, enter "artists books" as a keyword search or use this link: Browse "artists' books."

To find artists' books by women in the Rubenstein Library, try a subject search for "artists books by women" or use this link: Browse "artists' books by women."

What is an Artists' Book?

The artist's book as a concept resists being bound to single definition. In the most general terms, it is an original work of art that that incorporates or innovates upon the book form in some—often dramatic—way.  These books amalgamate traditional arts, such as graphic design, printmaking & bookbinding, with the full spectrum of contemporary art practice and theory, expanding and redefining the form.  The artist’s book is almost always conscious of the subtle interplay of form and content, and often seeks to challenge the mundane expectations of its audience.  In the 1960’s, the popularity of the artist’s book swelled in the United States and Europe. And by the 1970s major production centers were established, including the Women’s Studio Workshop in upstate New York and the Nexus Press in Atlanta. The artist's book persists into the present as innovative, challenging, and mercurial form.  To read a book artist's definition of and meditation on her medium, please visit Angela Lorenz's website: "What is an Artist's Book."

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, part of Duke’s Rubenstein Library, has been collecting artists’ books since 1998, and currently holds over 350 artists’ books by women about gender issues. It has been argued that a book published through traditional means—along with the ideology of authorship implied by these conventions—is an inherently patriarchal object. These artists’ books by women can be viewed as a means of subverting established concepts of power and order.  The Bingham Center’s collection of artists’ books by women documents how women artists use the book format to address issues of gender. Whether self-published or issued by small presses, this artistic format can combine the crafts of papermaking, typography, and bookbinding with each artist’s unique sensibility and artistic vision.

This subject guide offers an annotated selection of books around several subject areas including the body, women’s clothing, domesticity, quilting, mother/child relationships, women’s health, and sexuality, as well as a bibliography of secondary sources.

Your Librarian

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Kelly Wooten
Research Services Librarian, Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Rubenstein Library